Most indispensable player: West Virginia

Since last week, we’ve been examining the most indispensable player for every team in the Big 12. In other words, who is the player each team could least afford to lose to injury?

We’re knocking on wood before we turn in these posts, so no need to worry about a jinx.

We continue with the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Most indispensable player: Guard Quinton Spain

Why West Virginia can’t afford to lose him: Spain will bring a much-needed veteran presence to the Mountaineers' offensive line and offense.

The fifth-year senior brings versatility, having played tackle and guard during his WVU career and has started 26 of 38 career games during his first three seasons. He started all 12 games as a junior, four at left tackle and eight at left guard. Spain has been on the field for 1,758 offensive plays during the past two seasons for Dana Holgorsen’s squad, bringing unrivaled experience to the offensive line. Make no mistake, he is one of the better offensive linemen in the entire conference.

The Mountaineers’ experience along the offensive front is lacking after Spain with right guard Mark Glowinski (12) as the only other projected starter with more than four career starts. The rest of the projected starting offense is just as inexperienced, with wide receiver Cody Clay’s 15 career starts making him the lone returning starter besides Spain and Glowinski with double-digit starts at WVU.

WVU has a bevy of talented running backs, but Dreamius Smith, Wendell Smallwood and the rest of the Mountaineers ball carriers need a strong offensive line if they hope to approach 2,000 combined yards in 2014. Spain should be the centerpiece of that group.

Without Spain, WVU’s offense would lose a ton of experience, meaning the Mountaineers would be counting on inexperienced but talented skill players and a relatively young offensive line to spark a return to a bowl game.